Monday, 14 December 2009

Day 9

Today we leapt out of bed bright and early as we had an appointment in the harbour with the Felmsburg students who sailed from Germany for the march. Although gloriously sunny it was extremely cold and icy. After circling the city centre a few times we found the quayside and the 3 wooden sailing ships chartered by the students which were moored closely to the Greenpeace Ice breaker, Arctic sunrise. The students excitedly told us of their adventures at sea and gave us the grand tour of the boats.

In order to raise the funds to sail to Copenhagen, the team had organised weekly campaigns for months in the city of Flensburg to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The boats were beautiful wooden sailing vessels designed for fishing and were over 100 years old. Each boat had 15 bunks and beautiful well-stocked kitchens with wood burning stoves. The crews were of mixed ability, with some experienced offshore sailors and some not, but all three had experienced captains to guide them across the North Sea.

Next stop was a tour of the Arctic Sunrise, a 1970s ex-seal hunter and Ice breaker AKA the Arctic seasick, due to its lack of keel (needed to if it is to be an effective ice breaker). We were given a grand tour by the deck hand Paulo who regaled us with tales of saving whales, angry whalers with harpoon guns and high pressure hoses and scientific explorations around the poles.

This was also, sadly, Dougal’s final day in Copenhagen as he had to return to the UK to begin shooting for his music video (which the rest of us had been ribbing him about all week). He had to pack his bike up into a bag in order to be allowed on the train, which was then cancelled, and packed with other people looking to get home that weekend – hopefully he still made all his connections!

That evening we went to an event called Sitopia at the Dirt CafĂ© about food, the production of it and its relation to the climate. We had previously met a chap call John who was speaking at it, and he got us in to what was otherwise an invitation only affair. We all very much enjoyed the Sitopia event, and all the interesting speakers they had, who were from a wide variety of disciplines but who all had a common interest in food and its place in society and the environment. In particular, it’s worth checking out the book The Hungry City by Caroline Steele. Check out the blog here

There were a number of story-tellers sharing food related experiences and projects. One speaker, from a Copenhagen city social project, told how they were providing nutritious food to 60,000 Copenhagen residents in Nurseries, schools, hospitals and care homes with a budget of 40 Million Euros. The food is prepared in 1300 kitchens around the city. One of the key novel aspects of the scheme is the designation of food hosts (8000 in total for this project). The role of the hosts is to assist in making the consumption of the food provided a joyful and social experience – which could be described as an holistic approach to nutrition, with understanding of the importance of ritual and preparation that goes into the act of eating, and in direct contrast to the fast food culture that prevails in our current society. Currently the food provided is made from 60% organic ingredients. However it is hoped that by 2015 the produce will be 90% organic and locally sourced. They hope to spread the scheme throughout the rest of Denmark.

John Manooocheri, the sustainability consultant, lecturer and urban designer we had met the other night, gave his opinions on how to think about food in relation to good urban design. Check out one of John’s recent articles in the BBC green room on how it may be useful to think of saving the human race in terms of an issue in scale of importance and scientific thinking as the space race.

Also speaking at the event was Clare Patey, from the Ministry of trying to do something about it giving her experiences of the many new food and allotment projects in London that have sprung up in recent years. Clare is the artist behind the clever carbon rationing booklets I love. Clare is currently seeking funding to roll out the project to a wider audience so if anyone can help then get in touch. Her website will be up and running soon:

All in all, an exhausting but thought provoking day. Copenhagen has definitely lived up to expectations so far. Tomorrow we plan to visit the Bella centre and see where the serious political action is taking place. Over and out. xxx

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